A Festivus for the Rest of Us

An Analysis of the 2013 Japanese Battle Fiesta

Hello again SixPrizes! I hope you all had a great holiday season and a happy New Year! As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, today’s topic will be the Japanese Battle Fiesta and a discussion about the upcoming XY set.

pokemon battle stadiumpokemonscreenshots.tumblr.com
A Battle Fiesta is like a small Regionals.

For those of you who don’t know what the Battle Fiesta is, it’s a large Japanese tournament about the size of a large State Championship or small Regional Championship in the United States. There were two locations, the first being Osaka on December 15th and the second being Tokyo on December 22nd.

The format for these events was Black & White through Collection X and Collection Y, which is the Standard Format in Japan right now. If you’d like an introduction to how their tournaments are run check out my article on the Battle Carnival.

They also had Tropical Beach and Champions Festival banned for both tournaments. This has been the first time any card has been banned since 2002, where Sneasel N1 and Slowking N1 were both banned because of their domination of the format in the Beat Up archetype, making practically every other deck obsolete.

I’m puzzled by the ban on Champions Festival, as it’s a very lackluster card to begin with and is really only useful in niche decks so far. Tropical Beach being banned isn’t as much of a surprise to me. With such a large price tag, so few in circulation, and having a noticeable use in every single deck in the format since the rule changes, the card poses a big issue to the game. When a card can’t hypothetically be played by everyone in an event there’s a problem.

At our upcoming Fall Regionals I don’t think it’s possible for everyone at the event to run 2 or more copies of Tropical Beach. Even if all players could afford it there just aren’t enough of them printed. I agree with PCL’s decision to ban Tropical Beach and I hope TPCi takes some kind of action on Tropical Beach.

Because of these two differences between their format and the one we will have with the release of XY, the results of these tournaments won’t be a perfect indicator of what decks will be good, but we will be able to carry some information over. Two of my sources from Japan each played in one of the events so I’ll be able to go over what they played and how they did as well as give you guys the top finishing decks from their equivalent of the Masters Division.

Battle Fiesta – Osaka – December 15th

line for tokyo battle fiesta 2013
Everyone in line waiting to get registered.

This was the first event using cards from Collection X and Collection Y and only a couple days after the set was released in Japan so many players didn’t have all the cards or weren’t sure what to play. My correspondent played an Exeggutor/Red Card deck with attackers and made it to the Top 8. I really like the concept of his deck so I’ll talk more about it later in the article.

The Top 4 decks were…

1st – Rayquaza EX/Raikou-EX/Eelektrik NVI
2nd – Darkrai EX/Yveltal-EX/Landorus-EX/Bouffalant DRX/Absol PLF
3rd – Zekrom BLW/Zekrom-EX/Eelektrik NVI
4th – Ho-Oh EX/Virizion-EX/Shaymin EX/Absol PLF/Tropius PLB/Kecleon PLB

1st Place Decklist

Pokémon – 16

2 Tynamo NVI 38

1 Tynamo NVI 39

1 Tynamo DEX 45

4 Eelektrik NVI

2 Rayquaza DRV

1 Rayquaza-EX

1 Zekrom BLW

1 Victini NVI 15

1 Raikou-EX

1 Jirachi-EX

1 Mr. Mime PLF

Trainers – 33

4 Professor Juniper

4 N

4 Colress

 

4 Ultra Ball

3 Level Ball

2 Muscle Band

2 Switch

2 Escape Rope

2 Prof’s Letter

2 Super Rod

1 Pokémon Catcher

1 Tool Scrapper

1 Dowsing Machine

 

1 Skyarrow Bridge

Energy – 11

7 L

4 R

Besides the 2 Eelektrik decks, the other two Top 4 finishers played decks that could be used when XY is released in the rest of the world. I think Ho-Oh has been very underplayed so far in the US, but could do very well with the right build. I’ve tested and enjoyed the Archeops variant that Andrew Zavala covered last week. Maybe people are saving their Ho-Oh decks for Regionals and we could see some good showings there. We’ll see.

Although we can’t use Eelektrik in the rest of the world, these results say a lot about the two “Rain Dance” decks in our format. Blastoise and Emboar function very similarly to an Eelektrik deck with the same goal but a different way to go about getting the Energy on your attacker. I think the reason why Eelektrik was favored over Blastoise or Emboar was the absence of Tropical Beach. Getting a Stage 2 out is a much harder task when you can’t use Tropical Beach and the reason why almost every list of those decks runs two or three.

I think the biggest thing to take away from these results is the strength of Blastoise and Emboar. We’ve already seen a lot of Cities wins from both of these decks and I expect nothing but the best in terms of results heading into Winter Regionals.

Another interesting aspect of these results was no Team Plasma decks. Here in the US “The Yeti” has been taking down tournament after tournament in some of the toughest competition including multiple wins in both the Texas and Chicago Cities marathons. Anyone I talked to from Japan said that Plasma was almost nonexistent and barely anyone considered it a viable deck anymore.

I’m very surprised by this because of how good Team Plasma actually is right now. I would have to assume it’s because people haven’t figured out how to make the right builds for the deck and I expect to see more of the deck in future tournaments. The Rayquaza/Eelektrik matchup could be annoying without being able to damage them with Frozen City for each Energy they get on their Pokémon like you can with Blastoise or Emboar, but a tech Palkia EX could take care of Rayquaza, and then switch into something like Snorlax PLS, which I’ve seen being played in a few Plasma lists in States.

Battle Fiesta – Tokyo – December 22nd

battle fiesta tokyo 2013 gold charizard trophy guard
The solid gold trophy was closely guarded.

From what I heard, this second tournament had a lot more of the best players from around Japan in attendance. The first weekend was more difficult to attend for some players and others just weren’t prepared with it being only a couple days after Collection X and Collection Y were released.

My friend used Rayquaza/Eelektrik at this tournament and sadly didn’t make it to the Battle Stage (the equivalent of out top cut). The results for this tournament were much more interesting so I’ll jump right into them:

1st – Palkia EX/Stuff
2nd – Rayquaza EX/Eelektrik NVI
3rd – Team Plasma (TDK version)
4th – Landorus-EX/Mewtwo EX/Garbodor DRX

Sadly I wasn’t able to get any of the decklists from this tournament, which was upsetting because they all look interesting. We haven’t seen much of the Landorus-EX/Mewtwo EX variant of Garbodor; it’s been seemingly outclassed by Darkrai/Garbodor, but here we see it in the Top 4. I would attribute this partially to the large amount of Eelektrik decks that were played, as Landorus and Mewtwo do a great job of taking out Tynamos in the early game while Garbodor handles the late game.

palkia statueBulbapedia
Strafe to safety.

The Palkia EX deck is by far the most interesting, so I’ll start there. I just said “Stuff” because apparently there were a bunch of Pokémon that were good in the Active Spot including Snorlax PLS and Froslass PLB.

I know Mark Oliver has been playing a deck like this in Arkansas and doing very well in local Cities and League Challenges, but I haven’t seen it spread or pop up anywhere else. I’m excited to see if the deck picks up any steam after their results and I’m eager to try it out for myself and see what I can do.

I’ve drafted up a sample list that I’ve put on PlayTCG and will try out when I can, and here’s a skeleton to get you all started if you’d like to do the same:

Pokémon – 11

2 Palkia-EX

2 Snorlax PLS

2 Snorunt PLB

2 Froslass PLB

2 Suicune PLB

1 Latias-EX

Trainers – 41

4 Professor Juniper

4 N

4 Skyla

1 Colress

3 Shadow Triad

 

4 Hypnotoxic Laser

4 Ultra Ball

4 Max Potion

4 Float Stone

2 Switch

2 Tool Scrapper

1 Dowsing Machine

1 Super Rod

 

3 Virbank City Gym

Energy – 8

4 Double Colorless
2 W

1 P

1 R

This deck seems like a lot of fun and obviously has some potential if it won the whole event, so I’m interested to see what the future has in store for it. It’ll probably go nowhere, sadly, but with the right list it can be a great meta counter.

Finally, some Plasma! I think the TDK variant was much better suited for their metagame than “The Yeti,” so I’m not surprised by this being the variant to do well. I actually really like the TDK version of the deck right now for our current format and have seen most of the players who actually give it a shot do very well with it.

One card from the new set that should make “The Yeti” even better is Muscle Band. Being able to have a base of 140 damage on Lugia EX seems insane and could make the deck even better than it already is. We’ll have so see what else emerges when the set is released in the rest of the world, but I expect Team Plasma to continue with their domination of the format.

X and Y Set Highlights

The recently released X and Y sets in Japan have brought about a lot of interesting new cards, not all of which were covered during my overview of the two tournaments. I think there are a lot of cards with great potential in the set, so I’d like to give you all my opinion on which cards are the best and how they fit into the meta or bring something entirely new to the table.

1. Muscle Band // Translation

muscle-band-xy-121-official
It’s a game changer.

When the set was first revealed almost everyone was going crazy about Red Card, but the first thing to catch my eye was Muscle Band. Anyone who played back in 2010-2011 remembers Expert Belt, which was a very very good card at the time. Muscle Band is almost an exact reprint, but gives absolutely no drawback. Attaching Muscle Band to an EX, like Lugia EX that I mentioned before, will make it more overpowered than it already was.

For example, Dark Claw is a 3-of in most Darkrai decks and considered one of the main reasons why Darkrai is so great. Now every EX will be able to get that +20 damage. I think Muscle Band is easily the most game changing card in the set and will shift the meta even further toward EX’s.

2. Pal Pad // Translation

I think Pal Pad will be a great boost in consistency for most decks. Running out of Supporters and dead-drawing loses people games all the time and takes a lot of the fun away from the game. Being able to get back an N to win you the game or just get a couple Junipers back in your deck if you’ve been using and discarding them a lot will really influence the flow of games in my opinion.

I expect Pal Pad to be a staple in most decks and help move the game in the right direction. We need a more stable draw engine for the most part, but being able to keep your Supporters flowing throughout the game will be a big help.

3. Trevenant // Translation

Trainer (and now, Item) lock has always been a part of Pokémon, with each block of sets having had some sort of lock card either in the form of a Pokémon Power, Poké-Body, Ability, or attack. Trevenant’s “Curse of the Forest” Ability is a word-for-word copy of Gothitelle’s “Magic Room.” I think that the being Active Item lock is much more balanced than something like Vileplume UD which could be on the Bench and I’m glad they didn’t change the mechanic.

The biggest difference between Trevenant and Gothitelle is that Trevenant is a Stage 1, while Gothitelle is a Stage 2. This is huge considering how much of a game changer turn 2 Item lock is. Cutting Rare Candy out of the equation makes the evolving job so much easier and leaves you with 4-5 extra spots in any current Gothitelle deck.

This is especially good in Gothitelle/Accelgor, giving you more room to run a tech to counter Virizion/Genesect decks. Personally, I like Flareon a lot with all the added room. A 1-1 Garbodor is what I’ve been running in my list for our current format, but it doesn’t always get the job done.

I’m excited to see how Trevenant affects the format. Item lock decks, especially continual lock decks like Gothitelle/Accelgor, have always been my favorite, so I’m glad Pokémon is continuing to bring us Item lock cards that are viable.

4. Red Card // Translation

red-card-xy-124-official
It won’t be THAT disruptive.

Almost everyone I’ve talked to about the new set has said one thing: “I hate Red Card.” I’m here to disagree with all the hate the card is getting and make my point on why it’s not as good as everyone says it is.

First of all, you gain nothing yourself by using it. The same goes for Crushing Hammer and Enhanced Hammer, but both of those cards can give you a noticeable and quantifiable change in your opponent’s side of the field. With Red Card it’s 100% luck on how it affects your opponent.

One example I like the use is the N to four. How often have you won a game because of an N to four? Probably not very often; it really doesn’t change much in the game. Including their draw your opponent will have 5 cards, and 5 cards is a lot of chances to get a Supporter or Tropical Beach or something to get them out of having only 5 cards. In reality I think people will come to realize that Red Card isn’t all that great, but will be good in certain decks and could become better depending on what comes out in future sets.

Speaking of certain decks, the Exeggutor/Red Card deck that I mentioned before is a perfect example of a deck that utilizes Red Card to its advantage. Even if your opponent is able to draw a Supporter they won’t be able to use it, and with the help of Crushing Hammer and Enhanced Hammer you can slowly whittle down their resources and start attacking.

It’s very similar to the strategy of “Hovertoxin” the control variant of Darkrai/Garbodor that Dustin Zimmerman came in Top 4 with at the World Championships this year. With the help of Hypnotoxic Laser, while denying them Energy, you get Energy on your attackers and you can make sure the game is entirely in your favor before letting them play Supporters; using multiple Red Cards can also help make sure they don’t draw into the cards they need to get set up.

This deck is inherently worse in our format because of Tropical Beach, but it can still be played around with higher counts of Virbank City Gym and Red Carding them if they are able to get it out and use it.

I’d like to respect the confidentiality of my friend’s list of the deck because they have a tournament coming up, but I’ll leave you with something to get your gears turning on how to build it:

Pokémon – 13

4 Exeggcute PLF

3 Exeggutor PLF

1 Mr. Mime PLF

5 Attackers

Trainers – 37

4 Professor Juniper

2 N

4 Skyla

3 Colress

1 Team Flare Grunt

 

4 Ultra Ball

2 Level Ball

4 Hypnotoxic Laser

3 Crushing Hammer

3 Red Card

2 Enhanced Hammer

1 Pal Pad

1 Dowsing Machine

 

3 Virbank City Gym

Energy – 10

10 Energy

Attackers to consider: Genesect EX, Mewtwo EX, Landorus-EX, Terrakion-EX

5. Rainbow Energy // Translation

Rainbow Energy has been reprinted again finally. Last year was the first year since its release that Rainbow Energy wasn’t in the format. I think Rainbow Energy is one of the best cards for helping make a format more diverse. Blend Energy limits your combinations a lot and I think Rainbow Energy can help improve decks like Hydreigon and the new Aromatisse which has the same Ability as Hydreigon, but moves Y Energy instead of Darkness.

Overall, Rainbow Energy is great to have as an option in the format and I expect it to yield some great results.

6. Prof’s Letter // Translation

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Lets you grab two basic Energies.

Considering how much Energy Search is played in practically any deck with basic Energies because of the ability to Skyla for it, Prof’s Letter is an obviously great card. I think decks like Blastoise and Emboar will benefit the most from this card. It’s just an amazing card when you can instantly attach both of the Energies.

Prof’s Letter is a simple card, but I expect it to be a great addition to any deck that doesn’t rely on Special Energies.

7. Greninja // Translation

Since it was revealed, Greninja has been one of those cards that I feel should be really good but I can’t figure out how to make it work. I was disappointed by no Greninja’s in the Top 4 of either tournament, but I wasn’t surprised. The card is very good in theory, but I’m not sure what would be good to pair it with.

It could be interesting as a rush deck with 4 Ditto BCR and a Mr. Mime PLF, possibly trying to stream Greninjas and hopefully get all 4 on the field at the same time. With the help of Hypnotoxic Laser and Silver Bangle and possibly even Pokémon Catcher I think the deck could work out pretty well, but we’ll have to see if anyone can come up with a great way to run Greninja.

Conclusion

I hope everyone enjoyed this change of pace from the usual articles on our current format. I’d love to know everyone’s opinion on this type of article and if you’d be interested in more Japanese coverage or current format analysis. I know Regionals is coming up, so having an article that isn’t going to help you as much with those tournaments can sometimes be disappointing, but I thought this would be a great way to get the information to the community and help everyone take a break from the stressful preparation for Regionals.

Thanks for reading and good luck to everyone at Regionals! As always feel free to come up and say hi or have a chat at a tournament; I love talking to my readers and seeing what they have to say! I’ll be at Virginia Regionals and St. Louis Regionals and I hope to see you guys there.

Until next time,

– Henry


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